Florence expected to become a 'hurricane' as it heads to US

Rosemary Collier
September 11, 2018

Category 1 hurricane Florence gained strength on Sunday in the central Atlantic and is expected to turn into a major storm by Monday night as it churns over the open ocean and heads toward the U.S. East Coast, the U.S. hurricane agency said.

Hurricane Florence is plowing toward the East Coast as a Category 4 storm with a 500-mile wing span, forcing dire warnings and mandatory evacuations - including the entire coastline of SC and parts of Virginia and North Carolina.

Florence is not now expected to impact metro Atlanta, as the storm is now forecast to remain northeast of the area.

Florence may make landfall anywhere from New England to the Carolinas as soon as Thursday as a Category 3 or higher hurricane.

The turbulent storm was last spotted 710 miles southeast of Bermuda moving west at 6mph.

It is expected to approach the southeastern US coast on Thursday.

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More than 3.9 million homes that would cost more than a $1 trillion to rebuild are at risk from hurricanes on the U.S. Atlantic coast from ME to Florida, according to CoreLogic, a property analytics firm in Irvine, California.

Lining up behind Florence, Isaac was about 1,150 miles (1,855 kilometers) east of the Windward Islands with top winds of 75 mph (120 kph) early Monday, accelerating on a path to cross into the lower Caribbean Thursday as a weak hurricane.

Earlier Sunday Florence regained its hurricane status and rapid strengthening from here is expected since the storm is encountering less wind shear and warm waters. Regardless of where Florence comes near land, its impact, including wind, rain, and storm surge, will be felt well outside the immediate area near storm's center.

The governors of North and SC and Virginia declared states of emergency to give them time to prepare, and the Navy said ships in Virginia's Hampton Roads area would leave port for their own safety.

Hurricanes impacting the Carolinas isn't rare, but it has been some time since a major hurricane has made landfall in North Carolina. In those coastal areas, heavy surf and elevated water levels are expected to arrive by Wednesday morning, and rainfall could begin by Thursday morning. A Category 5 storm has the potential to cause catastrophic damage.

As of 5 p.m. ET Monday, the center of Florence was located about 1,170 miles from Cape Fear, North Carolina, and was moving to the west-northwest at 13 mph.

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Some portions of the Carolinas could see as much as 30 to 40 inches of rain from Florence, the National Weather Service said, which would lead to river flooding that "could last for days or weeks" after the storm. Drawing energy from the warm water, it could be a fearsome Category 4 with winds of 130 miles per hour (209 kph) or more by Tuesday, the Miami-based centre said. As a major storm, the hurricane is expected to produce life-threatening conditions.

Farther north into the Delmarva Peninsula, residents of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and NY and coastal and inland areas should also monitor the storm and prepare in case the forecast shifts to the north and east.

Florencewill probably create more wind than Hurricane Hugo and more water than Hurricane Matthew, McMaster warned.

"Even that forecast, if it came true, might be dire for North Carolina, since the model predicted that storm would stall out for several days just offshore, dumping massive amounts of rain over coastal North Carolina".

Hurricane Isaac is the fifth hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season.

Helene is moving toward the west-northwest near 14 miles per hour (22 km/h). The storm was moving west at 14 mph (22 kmh) and expected to accelerate over the next 36 hours. The center warns that such storms will snap or uproot most trees and down power poles and that power can be out in some areas for weeks or months.

Meteorologists watching Hurricane Florence closely, with potential for East Coast landfall
The state emergency office recommends that kits have enough supplies for every person in your household for three to seven days. The Hurricane Center is predicting that Florence will generate swells that will affect Bermuda by Friday and the U.S.

Isaac will be near the Lesser Antilles later this week and could bring impacts to parts of the Caribbean Islands during this time frame.

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